Bee reporters answer questions about area crime news, trends and other issues.
QUESTION: Around the late 1990s, I was on a jury that convicted several people for robbery and murder of a truck driver in a parking lot of a Stop-and-Go near 46th Avenue and Martin Luther King Boulevard in south Sacramento. The victim's brother, also a truck driver, saw his brother's truck in the parking lot before and after making deliveries himself to the Campbell Soup plant. Upon investigating, he found his brother partially clothed and dead in the truck from a gunshot wound. The judge determined the sentencing after we were released. What punishment did the judge impose, and what are the defendants' status?
Submitted by: Dave, Folsom
ANSWER: James "J.T." Bertram and Nikita Suzanne Powell, both of south Sacramento, were tried for the shooting death of Woodland trucker Darrel Gaskill.
According to stories in The Bee, Gaskill was killed Sept. 3, 1997, during a botched holdup inside his semitrailer.
Thomas reportedly shot Gaskill in the chest after Gaskill tried to fight him off during the attempted robbery. Powell had told Thomas that Gaskill had money on him, and sheriff's deputies said they found $1,100 in Gaskill's wallet after his body was discovered.
According to Sacramento Superior Court online records, Thomas was found guilty of murder and attempted robbery. He was sentenced to life in prison without possibility of parole. Now 55, he is at California State Prison, Centinela, in Imperial.
Powell, now 37, pleaded guilty to murder and was sentenced to 25 years to life in prison. She is incarcerated at the California Institution for Women in Corona.
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